Lenny Duncan

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What the Hell is a Pentecost?

By Lenny Duncan

Day 1 of 3

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
-Acts 2:1-4 (NRSV)

Church is weird. It is full of weird people doing weird 1800-year-old things (no matter how many lights or fog machines there are up front). I fall squarely in the keep church weird camp. I don’t want things to be like how they are everywhere else. I want to see something in church and muse to myself “What the fuck is that?” Church is meant to be set apart. A bastion of the Kin-dom of God. A place where systemic racism and white supremacy are dismantled. A place where transphobia and homophobia fall apart when met with the power of the ancient sacraments. Where misogyny is laid bare and exposed as the naked and raw nerve of male desperate attempts at dominance that it is.

But it’s also supposed to be a place where time is warped. Where moments can stretch on in complete connection with the divine forever. Where you are out of lock step with the calendar of the world and find a new way to march out of the capitalist calendar that demands content, more, create, work, and our everything. The Church calendar is the anarchist passage of time that is the middle finger shoved in the face of the imperialist cycle of the year. It is anti-empire and life giving.

Which brings us to Pentecost. What the fuck is a Pentecost?

If you’re like me, you like a good birthday party. I’m not talking cake and hats or a quiet dinner with friends. I’m talking crazy ass night in the city where shit gets utterly out of control so quickly that at the end of the night, you have to ask yourself how did we end up here? Where is here? It is raucous and feels dangerous. It feels like the moment when you are waiting for a firework to go off. You end up in a place you’ve never seen with people you never met, yet instantly are in love with. That’s Pentecost. It is the birthday of the Church. Not the Church as many of us have known— oppressive and, frankly, gross. No, it is the birth of a grassroots movement of peoples on the margins who are about to embark on the greatest adventure of their lives—one that they thought was over—and change the entire damn world. So, we will explore that in this devotional. We will recapture the holy tongues of flames, and we are going to burn this shit down. Because it’s a party, and we have no idea where it’s headed.

Am I ready to step out of the capitalist calendar of empire and enter the Church’s flow of time? Loving God, may I start to walk to your subtle tempo and slip in between the moments of the week. And may I fall into your timelessness where I can dance my ass off and celebrate liberation with you. Amen.

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